Herbert Butler still can't believe that just a few months ago he slept in the streets and now he prepares to be one of the participants who will proudly represent one of the floats in the 2020 Rose Parade.

"I never thought this would happen to me," he said yesterday, as he watched the volunteers decorate the chariot of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) in Irwindale.

On January 1, the native of Baltimore, Maryland, will greet the crowd from this float entitled "Hope for the Homeless."

On occasion, Butler – a veteran of the Army – found shelters or temporary homes but never fixed anything so he lived for seasons on the streets of Hollywood for two decades. He said he never married or had children.

In June 2019, Butler met Nicole Farley, her social worker and who gradually gained her trust. In August 2019, he got him a permanent home at the Baltimore Hotel in the Skid Row area, in downtown Los Angeles.

Farley said Butler's story is no stranger to that of many homeless people who only need a helping hand to get ahead. "It has been a privilege to work with him and know that music unites us too," he added.

Butler enjoys playing the piano and Farley's grandfather was a renowned jazz musician. As something of destiny, the social worker met him while he waited for his turn at Union Station to play the piano for a moment – which is at the station and is available to the public.

Butler loves music so much that when asked about his age he replied: "I have the age of the piano keys, 36 black and 52 white, that is 88 (years)," he said with a smile.

The AHF float will be dedicated to the homeless of the nation. (Jacqueline García / The Opinion)

Purpose carriage

The “Hope for the Homeless” float pays tribute to the work that AHF has done for years focusing on helping the homeless to find homes.

It is estimated that there are about 60,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County and government work is not fast enough to address this crisis.

Ged Kenslea, a spokesman for AHF, said that since 2017 the foundation has bought, renovated and reused eight hotels and motels in Los Angeles helping to create 800 housing units for extremely poor families or the homeless.

"We feel that this is a faster way to focus on homelessness," he said. "There are over 10,000 of these buildings in southern California that could be used in this way."

Kenslea said that unfortunately the government works at such a slow pace and the construction of homes under its supervision is so expensive that it prevents moving forward quickly.

He gave as an example that while an unoccupied hotel / motel can be renovated at a cost of $ 17,000 per room, the units that the city plans to make are at a cost of $ 500,000 each.

"There is an imbalance," Kenslea said advocating faster housing. "We have a lot to do".

The Hope for the Homeless float is one of 39 fleets that will participate in the 2020 Rose Parade that begins at 8:00 a.m. and that will travel five and a half miles on the Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena.

For more information visit: https://tournamentofroses.com/


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